Each day that passes on Merseyside signals a day closer to the impending exit of club legend and captain, Steven Gerrard.
The skipper’s time in a red shirt is rapidly coming to a climax. In the summer, Gerrard will be jetting to sunny Los Angeles to link up with Irishman, Robbie Keane and LA Galaxy. The Englishman, who will be turning 35 at the tale end of May, is choosing to leave the spotlight that is English football in order to wind down his career in a more exotic climate than the one he has been experiencing on Merseyside his entire life.
Gerrard deserves the break and a fitting end to his Liverpool career, but now people are posing a fresh enquiry. Who is going to step into the Anfield spotlight that Gerrard has occupied all of these years?
The answer to that is simple. None other than current vice captain, Jordan Henderson.
Why? The answer is, because he is a carbon copy of Steven Gerrard.
Steven Gerrard was always known for showing great grit, determination and passion in a Liverpool jersey. Jordan Henderson shows these exact qualities.
‘Hendo’ has come on leaps and bounds in three and a half seasons at Anfield. In 2011/2012 under Kenny Daglish, Liverpool supporters could not stand the sight of Henderson’s name on the team sheet. The youngster endured a torrid time at Anfield in his début season. People were starting to question was the £16 million man a big fish in a small pond at Sunderland.
Three years on and it is the patient fans who are reaping the rewards. Henderson is now one of Liverpool’s key components. The former England under-21 captain is now one of the first names on the team sheet. What difference a few years can make in football.
You will never see Henderson shy away from attempting to win the ball. He will always press on the opposition before taking his opportunity to nick the ball from their grasp. From time to time, we may even witness a crunching slide tackle from the midfield man, which are very easy on the eye when timed to perfection. However, at times he can get a little carried away.
In the famous 3-2 victory over Manchester City at Anfield last term, Henderson went flying into a challenge on Samir Nasri and as a result, was shown red by Mark Clattenberg. It’s obvious he had the best intentions at heart, but it was the perfect case of trying a little too hard to make things happen. Passion can sometimes clearly get the better of young Henderson.
You just have to follow Henderson in a game, even just for a few minutes, to know he is a live workhorse. The midfielder just won’t leave the pitch until he has covered every last blade of grass on the soil. In his Sunderland and early Liverpool days, the Geordie was often deployed as a winger, much to his dismay.
When given the chance in the central role, Henderson has thrived, thus remaining stationed there ever since. His defensive work rate is easily on a par with his attacking equivalent as he possesses the energy and fitness levels to enable himself to work well from the first whistle to the last. He has completely reformed in the centre midfield role.
Henderson seems the complete midfielder in the middle of the park. He is capable of pulling all the strings in the middle, providing ammunition in attack and play a part in defence when called upon.
Sounds like someone familiar, doesn’t he?
So how has the vice-captain fared in this campaign? Henderson has featured in 24 Premier League outings for Liverpool, with 23 of them coming from the kick off. These tallies are superior to those of current captain, Gerrard, who has featured 22 times, 20 from the start.
However, Gerrard has bagged more goals than his counterpart. Although, four of Gerrard’s six strikes have come from the penalty spot, so the more technical statisticians out there may view the two midfielders as equals on this statistic.
Henderson might not acquire the magic touch when it comes to scoring goals from midfield as of yet. However, the 24-year-old overwhelms his 34-year-old counterpart when it comes to setting up goals for his teammates. The younger midfielder has six assists in the bag compared to Gerrard’s one.
Henderson also betters Gerrard in his defensive play this season. The vice-captain has won 42 tackles in comparison with the skipper’s 30. His reading of the game appears to be superior too, boasting 25 interceptions over Gerrard’s 15.
Henderson can also boast a better percentage in passing accuracy, more recoveries, as well as greater percentages in both ground and aerial duals won.
Has Gerrard lost his hunger or has Henderson become hungrier?
I believe it is more of the case of the latter, as it is quite clear Gerrard wants to leave with one final winners medal in his suitcase to LA, his efforts have not faltered in the slightest.
Instead, it is evident that Jordan Henderson’s game play of today is a clone of Steven Gerrard’s of ten years ago.
One important thing that will propel Jordan Henderson into the spotlight at Anfield is the manager’s backing. Brendan Rodgers has maximum faith in the 24-year-old, as seen in numerous press conferences in the past and in the fact that he made Henderson the new vice-captain following the departure of Daniel Agger in the summer.
Rodgers has been grooming Henderson to take over from Gerrard. The Northern Irishman’s idea was for ‘Hendo’ to observe Gerrard at close quarters.
It was one of the reasons I made him vice captain .He has no greater captain to learn from and the idea of putting him in that role was for him to get in pole position to learn from a great how he behaves and works. So, when that day came when Steven did move on, you had someone who can offer that wisdom and knowledge and that is something he has been doing” said Rodgers.
From these comments, it is quite clear that Rodgers rates Jordan Henderson very highly as both a player and a person.
All in all, Jordan Henderson is being supplied with the task of filling the shoes of club legend, Steven Gerrard. This is by no means an easy task and, to most players, it would be a daunting one.
However, it does not appear as though Henderson falls into the bracket of most players. The man is fearless and will thrive under the pressure of filling the void Gerrard is leaving behind. Don’t be surprised to see Jordan Henderson leading Liverpool Football Club for years to come.